The following story is from Jon Eaton:
I remember when I first found out that I had the opportunity to attend the 1998 Brickyard 400. Being I was only 15, and had never been there, I was grateful just to hear the fact that there was a narrow chance of going at all. I'd been a race fan for a little over a year after I went to I-70 Speedway in Odessa, MO for the Craftsman Truck Series race. Been watching NASCAR ever since, and a little bit of open wheen racing (NO F1!), but of course I'd watched the Indy 500. I was absolutely exhilirated to hear this news.
A few weeks later, I get a call that we GOT THE TICKETS! My uncle goes every year and found a way to get us his extra two tickets, and we were set to attend the Friday events and the big race Sunday. Leaving early Thursday morning, we had set out to a small town just about 30 minutes from the track for our hotel room (do not ask how we got this room, we probably had to kill a few people that I'm not aware of!). We missed the trucks race at IRP that night because we had just arrived in town, and were starving.
I'd just driven through the city, and had noticed how the town was set up--a circle. It was known as the circle track I believe, and it was just a sign of things to come. Everywhere you went, BRICKYARD 400 WEEKEND here, WELCOME RACE FAN signs there, Dupont Automotive Finishes, GM Goodwrench Service... Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett... you get the picture, racing everywhere. A circletrack in the circle city, it just made sense.
Keep in mind, up to this point, I'd only seen the trucks at I-70 (going a max speed of maybe 120 to 130) and late models there as well. We had a bit of a delima with the tickets at our hotel (we were so paranoid we couldn't leave the tickets in the hotel room while the cleaning crew was in there, so my dad went back, with my uncle with his friends we were hanging out with all day at the camp site). I went on into the track for morning practice, while my uncle waited to meet my dad then meet me at the same gate I entered.
As I walked up the small hill to the grandstands, I saw the fastest moving thing I had ever seen that close... just a roof of a car, who knows who, flash by, just above the hill. I was addicted to the track already and loved the heritage. I loved the speed, the layout, the radio announcer, I loved everything. I sat in the main grandstands and watched Mayfield, Earnhardt, Gordon, and many others zip around the track at 180 MPH and tune their cars in the pits as well as rolling in and out of the famed Gasoline Alley. I just had to walk around the track before I left to meet them at the gate.
I went under the tunnel, as cars rolled by. The rumble above was just fun to hear and it was just thrilling... that's about all I can put into words to describe it! I walked around the grandstands on the inside of the track, but couldn't find a good seat to watch the action from. I continued treking around, sort of looking at the stuff around the pits, then turned around to see where I was--victory lane.
Suddenly, the emotions of hundreds before me winning races rushed through the air and into my lungs... I felt like I was standing somewhere I am supposed to be in years to come. I saw everything around there you can see... it was magical to say the least.
Sitting down for the slow and boring second round qualifying, we decided to find a seat for the IROC race. We settled for Turn 4 seats, just accross the way from our seats in Turn 3 for the next day. The race wasn't necessarily boring (hell, the wreck with Arie was enough to make it worth the money we paid to get in!), but it was legendary to say the least. The first "all-star" race there. Many guys returning to Indy for the first time, like Al Jr. Mark Martin made a good move out of four to take the lead late in the race and win his fourth (?) IROC championship. It was a great day about to get better.
Happy hour was the best part of the day. We saw what we would see tomorrow, and I saw all of the men that I idol race around the track that I love. Tweaking their cars, tuning their engines, adjusting their suspension, turning a knob or two, and reading the tires. It was a big day for them and me.
We decided to skip the Busch race because we wanted as much sleep as we could get. As the sun rose we woke up, around 4 or 5 (I was so out of it I don't know what time it was, or if we even really did wake up that early LOL!). We had no traffic and stayed with our buddies, just next to Georgetown Rd. We scanned the trailers, looked at all the goods and bads in them, bought a few things, talked to some people, and wasted a few hours before we made it to our seats about an hour and a half early. The ceremonies and chat we had was enough to keep me not so tense.
As the race started, I was in awe. It was my first Winston Cup race, and it was a thriller. Drama, action, suspense, and best of all, bumps, rubs, and racing! Gas running out, engines expiring, people smacking the wall, tires popping, all of it at the most famous track in the world.
Being a Gordon fan I was definately happy with the race. It was a great race overall as was, but his win was icing on the cake. I guess he has to thank Todd Parrot with the 88 pit for messing up the fuel mileage data, and Buckshot and others for causing the pile ups to end the race. But he won!
The First Brickyard 400 sent in by R.M. (07/29/06)
On a hot sunny day in august, out in turn 3, with around 20 laps to go Ernie Irvan and Jeff Gordon dueled for the lead. Jeff Bodine was the fastest car on Hoosier tires, but had trouble early on.You could feel the intensity rise as the 28 and the 24 swapped the lead. Suddenly Ernie swerved out of turn 2 to the inside. A flat tire would end his chances at the win. The caution flew, with Ernies front tire scattered on the backstretch. As the cars gathered behind the pace car, it became clear that this was Gordons race to lose.
When the green flag flew, Tom Carnagie took over, "THE KID IS ON IT". As the field came out of 2 with the day-glow orange being the first thing everyone saw, the croud went nuts as if they were cheering for a home run the home team had hit. Yes, this was Gordon's house.
As the laps wound down the crowd grew louder, with Carnagie blurting out, "THE KIDS THE FASTEST CAR ON THE TRACK" Everytime he came through 2 the croud would erupt until he was out of sight down the front straight. The rest is history. I've been to 20-25 races since 91. I had never seen anything like it before and I will never see any thing like it again. It was the biggest win of Gordon's career and still is. Some things are meant to happen.
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